The Chabad of Houston community has thrown open their doors widely. It is amazing to see what we preach about Ahavat Yisrael and loving your fellow Jew as yourself in action. The Chabad staff here has been inundated with calls and emails offerring to host people and give food. They are even talking about taking kids in to their Torah Day School tuition free for the few months until New Orleans is operable again. The Chabad Centers in the vincinity of the evacuation areas are also extending a welcome to members of our New Orleans Jewish community. We are already in discussion about practical methods of setting up shop to continue our work in Louisiana and the overwhelming support we have received from our colleagues, the Rebbe's emmissaries all over the country and the world brings tears to my eyes. The love and brotherhood and feeling of real family is strongly sensed now. The support and concern from the many Jews, some of whom we know and many that we do not, is both comforting and amazing. We are starting to hear from New Orleans people that are scattered and exiled all over. As we think and reflect about the great tragedy that is still very much in motion and will continue to impact over a million people in a very real and direct way, we must also see the love and the beauty of Klal Yisrael. I always knew it but now I experience it firsthand.
August 30 - 11:30 PM
After a grueling 12 hour trip we just arrived in Houston. We left this morning after the radio was reporting about the breach in the levee. There were 13 of us in three cars and we managed to find roads that were passable. After getting gas in Morgan City we came to Lafayette where the Aviner family graciously set up a little satellite community. The Schreiber family and several others were there. We spent 3-4 hours getting our bearings and then left to Houston. We are still very concerned about the people with which we have not had contact. Our phones are working on a very limited basis but we are trying to locate people. As news of people being safe come in the relief is great. Back home it is an unbelievable sight. Just in the Chabad House/Tulane area, though the flooding was not that bad (when we left) the downed trees and power lines and the debris completely cover the streets. Chimeneys fell. Pieces of roofs are off. Siding and gutters litter the yards. Gates are down. My car's back window was smashed by a piece of debris that fell off a roof on Broadway. This all pales in comparison to what we are hearing from Metairie and other areas. As we left New Orleans we felt like real refugees. We do not know when and how we will return. But we do know that we will be back to rebuild with G-d's help. Chabad is committed to being a presence in the New Orleans area during the upcoming trying times and a we will be a force in the rebuilding efforts.
We are definite that Rabbi Nemes has made it out of New Orleans, and he is on his way to Memphis, Tennesee . Thank G-d!
Tonight, Rabbi Goldman has organized a prayer service at Chabad House here for Sarah and I to lead. We expect over 200 students to participate.